Four connected companies based in London that each mis-sold land to the public have been put into liquidation following investigations by the Insolvency Service.

Three of the companies, Charles Barkley Limited, Lawrence Taylor and Co Ltd and Rayfield Wright Limited were ordered into liquidation in the High Court on grounds of public interest while a fourth company, Browne Mackenzie Limited, had earlier entered into voluntary liquidation.

Each company sold land at different sites around the country, but they all traded from the same address: Friendly House, 52-58 Tabernacle Street, London, EC2A 4NJ.

The investigation found investors were persuaded to part with over 10 million for plots on the misleading basis that planning permission was likely to be granted, resulting in a substantial increase in the value of the plots within two years.

The Court heard how those behind the companies and not investors had benefitted from the scheme, receiving nearly 4 million out of the money raised from the public (see note 5).

Company Investigations Supervisor Chris Mayhew said:
All four companies marketed plots of land for sale as an investment opportunity, a practice commonly referred to as land banking. Each company followed predominately the same marketing procedure of cold calling and hard sell tactics, misleading the public, particularly older investors, into parting with over 10 million.
The heavily marked up price of the plots sold imposed inevitable loss for investors: Charles Barkley Limited and Browne Mackenzie Limited were also found to have sold more land to investors than was available.
Working with other regulatory agencies we have now taken action against over 100 of these types of scheme and not one has shown a gain for the investor, some of whom are simply bullied into handing over their money.
The Service continues to bring unscrupulous companies before the Court to send a clear message they will be thoroughly investigated and closed down.